iCould.com Pt 2 – Careers In Music.

So, following on from my first post about careers advice, what are we to do with careers in a music industry that’s entirely in flux? Where no-one can categorically say where the ‘jobs’ will be in a year’s time, let alone 3 or 5 years time.

I think this question needs to be looked at on many levels. The obvious one for me is the thing I say over and over again here – the best you’ll ever be as a musician is when you are pursuing your own vision for what music should be and can be, soundtracking the world as you see it. Continue reading “iCould.com Pt 2 – Careers In Music.”

iCould.com – Real Life Inspirational Careers Advice. (Pt 1)

photo of solo bassist Steve Lawson soundchecking at the Royal Albert Hall, opening for Level 42 in 2002How did what you were advised to do at school connect with what you ended up doing?

I don’t know about you, but our careers advisory service back then was woeful to the point of being hilarious. There was a tick-box questionnaire that then made recommendations for what kind of jobs you should do. If you ticked yes to ‘do you like being outside?’, you invariably had ‘forestry commission’ suggested as a potential job on the dot matrix print-out you received. Continue reading “iCould.com – Real Life Inspirational Careers Advice. (Pt 1)”

G20 protests – a change is gonna come.

picture of protesters outside the Bank of EnglandToday I went down to the protest outside the Bank Of England that coincided with the meeting of the G20 in London. It was a multi-angle protest, seeking to bring together the shared concerns of the environmental movement, anti-capitalists, the climate change brigade, the stop the war coalition and those who wanted to see a greater degree of culpability placed on the financial systems and institutions that presided over the current global economic collapse.
Continue reading “G20 protests – a change is gonna come.”

Earthhour – Inspiration, collective meaning and the dangers of virtual absolution.

photo of a candle burning at st luke's church, holloway8.30-9.30 on Saturday night was Earth Hour. The idea was for everyone to turn off their lights for one hour as a symbol of their recognition of the problem of climate change, and the effect of our energy consumption and its environmental impact thereon. (at least, that’s my paraphrase).
Continue reading “Earthhour – Inspiration, collective meaning and the dangers of virtual absolution.”

Atheist Bus Campaign? Oh, grow up!

So the Atheist Bus Campaign are delighted that they’ve raised £135K to put up adverts around the place telling people not to worry cos there probably isn’t a God.

So, let’s get this straight – their logic is that putting God-bothering ads on buses is a stupid idea. So in response they… put up anti-God-bothering ads on buses. Genius! An eye for an eye. An ad for an ad. Maybe we can just start having whole conversations via 15 word slogans on the sides of buses. it’s a pretty nuanced way to talk about things.

Oh no, my mistake, it’s a fucking stupid way to discuss anything. Regardless of my own beliefs/faith/whatever, I’ve always been baffled by posters stating ‘facts’ about God, or with bible verses on them. It always smacked of some kind of talismanic evangelical witch-craft; ‘if we use bits of the Bible, it has special powers and people will be saved‘… Surely actually talking about this stuff is more useful. As some fab Welshmen once said, ‘this is my truth, tell me yours‘.

But, to counter it with equally bogus ‘there probably isn’t a God..’ banners helps no one. It does as much for discussion of the merits of faith and atheism as the original posters do. Precious little.

The picture at the top is my contribution to the debate. Happy new year, whatever your faith-persuasion. 🙂

My response to Balance PR

money, that's what I wantHere’s the email I just sent to Balance PR: (read the full account of the story thus far here )

The money is finally in my account.

Thanks for the extra to cover the DAYS I’ve spent chasing you to finally actually get paid. Oh no, my mistake, there isn’t any.

God only knows how long it would’ve been if I hadn’t bothered.

Inexcusably bad service. I hope that anyone I know that you ask to do any freelance work for you in the future asks for the money up front, or writes some MAJOR late payment penalty clauses into the contract.

I wouldn’t have had time for that, because, if you remember that long ago, I dropped pretty much everything I was doing in that week to help you guys out. I postponed 2 days of teaching work, and didn’t demand to see a written contract, given that you only had 3 days to get it together. Even when you cut the amount of work in half, half way through the project, I didn’t kick up a fuss, just got on with what I was doing.

Sadly, your appalling contractor relations meant that I have now had to spend God-knows how long chasing the money from you – it’s not like it’s a lot of money in the context of PR – wasting time when I could have actually been WORKING.

I hope, for the sake of the freelancers you employ, you never pull a stunt like this again, never rack up this many missed deadlines and lies about when you’re going to make the payment, and that you just implement a simple policy of paying by bank transfer on or BEFORE the 30 day grace period after an invoice has been submitted.

For my part, I’ll be telling everyone in PR who cares to listen the story of your late payment, poor communication, lack of apology and failure to offer any recompense for my extra time.

Steve”

…let’s see what they say in response…

(photo at the top is by Jenn Jenn)

British Airways wrecked my bass :(

So, we’ve arrived in Ohio, hanging out with Lobelia’s family.

We flew into Newark airport at the weekend, with British Airways, the plane was very late taking off, late getting into the airport, and we took ages getting through immigration. As a result, I was exhausted and didn’t check my bass out at the airport, cos the case looked fine.

Fast forward to this morning, and this is what greeted me –

Weird thing is, it's still in tune & plays OK - here's the cr... on TwitPic Here's the jack socket. All smashed up. on TwitPic

yup, proper smashed up. A crack from the end of the neck to the jack socket, right through the top. Yes, I was proper shocked. Shocked to the point of zen-like calm initially, which morphed into post-shock shaking pretty quickly.

This is the bass I’ve played for nearly 10 years. It’s unique. it’s perfect. It is, without a doubt, my favourite instrument I’ve ever played, seen or dreamt about.

And British Airways have destroyed it. So I started the process of getting in touch with them. Called the US number on the site ‘file a claim when you get home’… er, no, I’m here til the end of January ‘OK file the claim on the website’. Filled in the website form. got an email back,

” sorry your guitar is broken, please send us your fragile take and bubble wrap receipt.
Fenil Krishikar
British Airways Customer Relations”

So I write back “huh? Bubble Wrap receipt? what use is that? It was in a CASE. A case that has flown round the world dozens of times.”

My guess at this stage is that the bubble wrap and fragile tag bits are basically entrapment – they have clauses in their insurance terms that exclude them from liability if your bass doesn’t have bubble wrap on. Was this mentioned to me at the airport? nope. Did I sign a waiver of liability? of course not.

So we’ll see what happens, whether BA do the right thing, pay up, and help me get it fixed. Or if they don’t, we’ll get to work with the email and phone calls, right team?

The drinking ban on the tube/buses – waste of time?

OK, so this is a month or so late in coming, but I was sat on the top deck of the bus the other morning, and just across from me sat a bloke I’m assuming was a pretty far gone alcoholic, drinking some kind of super-strength lager from the can.

Now, just in case you don’t live in London or follow our news, ‘banning’ drinking on the tube and buses was the first move our new moron Mayor, Boris Johnson brought in.

Here’s the problem with it: It’s not a law. The ‘ban’ works on the fact that the tube is ‘private’ space, therefor you enter into an agreement with the tube owners when you get on that you’ll abide by their laws. The police can’t arrest you for drinking on the Tube, but the Tube’s own staff can ask you to leave. I’m not sure where they legally sit with being able to forcibly eject you.

The point at which your behaviour becomes legally a problem is when you resist their attempts to throw you off or confiscate your booze, and you can be done for breach of the peace.

And here’s what makes the law so effing stupid – that was already the case! You can be arrested for being drunk and disorderly anyway. If your behaviour in public is offensive, dangerous or constitutes a breach of the peace, the police can cart you off, wherever you might be behaving like that.

So banning drinking on the tube does nothing to make it ‘more criminal’ to be pissed and offensive on the tube, it just means that the staff on the tube end up having to put themselves in harm’s way by tackling people for drinking, who may or may not be drunk, or causing a problem, and who they can’t get any police support for until that person resists their attempts to exit them from the tube, by which time, someone’s probably got punched or puked on or generally upset. (they could feasibly have members of the British Transport Police shadowing them, or even doing the enforcement for them, but what a complete waste of police time!)

Surely it would’ve made a lot of sense to just up the numbers of transport police on the tube, and go with a publicity campaign about how behaving like an antisocial dick could get you in trouble with ‘actual laws’, rather than made-up unenforceable rules.

The other huge issue is that you have people getting onto the tube who after deciding to obey the new rule, have downed whatever their drink is just outside the station. So people are getting on the tube MORE drunk than before, not less so!

As a general rule, I really don’t like being around drunk people. I find them unpredictable and often unpleasant, and always less interesting than the same person when sober. But I know a stupid rule when I see one, and attempting to push the people who want to peaceably drink on the tube – whether they be getting tanked up on their way for a night out, or finishing a drink they didn’t want to leave behind when all their friends left the party they were at – seems like a recipe for more fights on the tube not less.

Perhaps it would’ve made more sense to have policed carriages on the tube late at night. Or depending on what the stats are relating to who exactly it was that’s being bothered, women-only policed carriages.

Or maybe the UK just needs to think a bit deeper about what is inspiring its teens and 20 somethings to go and get utterly shitfaced 3 nights a week – something that no amount of ‘bans’ on drinking are going to sort out.

…and maybe they should be doing more about the people smoking crack and crystal meth on the 29 bus before worrying about the dude with the bottle of Becks on his way out to a gig… The meth-dude we encountered on the 29 was considerably more unpredictable than any drunk I’ve come across on the tube for many years…